Workshop to showcase Bengal's dying arts on World Tourism Day

This World Tourism Day, jive to the spirited steps and energetic beats of the traditional Chhau dance - Indian tribal martial dance - learn the nuances of its choreography at a workshop here and appreciate the significance of such heritage art forms that are struggling to survive today.

IANS| Last Updated: Sep 26, 2014, 16:34 PM IST

Kolkata: This World Tourism Day, jive to the spirited steps and energetic beats of the traditional Chhau dance - Indian tribal martial dance - learn the nuances of its choreography at a workshop here and appreciate the significance of such heritage art forms that are struggling to survive today.

The workshop will be conducted Saturday at the Victoria Memorial Hall here on the occasion of World Tourism Day (WTD).

According to the United Nations website, this year's WTD focuses on "tourism and community development" and "draws special attention to the role of tourism in contributing to one of the building blocks of a more sustainable future for all, community development".

The Hall, an iconic edifice of the city, drew more than 33 lakh tourists last year. And being a top tourist destination, it has joined hands with an NGO, banglanatak.com, to celebrate and showcase dying arts and craft of rural West Bengal and highlight how these folk arts can add to livelihoods.

"This year we are expecting the tourist numbers will go up by five percent than the previous year. Since the Hall is a museum, art gallery as well as a tourism destination, we are conducting workshops on traditional art forms," Shakil Ahmed, administrative officer, Victoria Memorial Hall told an agency on Friday.

"In the Chhau dance workshop, for example, Chhau dancers from Bengal's Purulia district will teach people about its origin and the choreography," he said.

Explaining the significance of community-led tourism for rural art and craft hubs, Sayantani Raychaudhuri, general manager, banglanatak.com (that promotes rural art and crafts hub) said the "niche" sector allows communities to lead their own tourism and develop pride in their tradition.

"On the other hand, for tourists seeking the authentic experience these hubs serve their purpose. It generates revenue for the craftsmen and helps to revive the dying form as well, provided the tourism is led by the community," Raychaudhuri said.

In fact, she pointed out, the more one promotes these community-led ventures, the greater is the inflow of tourists.

"If you take Pingla village in West Midnapore, it was called the beggars' village four to five years ago because of the dire conditions of the local Potochitro (scroll paintings) artists. Now, its a turn around. From 12 artists, the number has swelled to 500 with visitors coming round the year," Raychaudhuri said.

At the day-long celebration Saturday, interested visitors can watch artisans working on Potochitro paintings, wooden dolls (from Burdwan district), Sital pati (mats fabricated from murta plants in Coochbehar), use of water hyacinth (kachuripana) and dokra (metal casting) products.

Also, there would be demonstrations on folk music cultures like baul and fakiri (wandering musicians).